Franchise Fred Vs. the Universal Monsters: The Invisible Man

My next stop in the Universal Classic Monsters 30 Film Blu-ray set was the Invisible Man franchise. I had only seen the Claude Rains original so I was excited to see where they went with new stories and new invisibility effects. This will probably be the most diverse franchise in the collection as it alternates between horror films, a straight comedy and a spy movie before returning to horror.

The Invisible Man Returns calls itself a sequel to The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells. Franchise Fred approves of that. The Fast and the Furious sequels should also include such a declarations. Can we still retroactively call 2 Fast 2 Furious “a sequel to The Fast and the Furious by Rob Cohen?”

It’s also a different invisible person each one: a convict, a woman, a spy. By the time it comes back to horror for The Invisible Man’s Revenge it’s kind of a snooze because petty personal revenge is a step down from previous invisible adventures.

The old invisible effects hold up in HD. Superimposing shots to erase eyes and hands still looks real. Wires lifting objects remain, uh, invisible (and hey, if there’s a glimpse or two, it’s quaint.) The more ambitious the films get, you start to see a halo silhouette of the invisible character. It still entirely believably the other characters still can’t see them, and it’s a neat peak into the process. I mean, they made actors 90% invisible in the ‘30s! That’s still impressive.

By Invisible Agent the FX get really ambitious with visible characters handing things off to the invisible one seamlessly, and there are action sequences. Agent is also more of a film noir with sharp shadows even in the visible scenes. You can see a little outline when he bathes in a tub but still that’s a damn good effect for 1942. You totally see the wires when he steals a chicken leg but puppeteering a drumstick with vertical and horizontal wires is even more impressive to me than keeping the wires hidden.
The Abbott and Costello Meet movies are each spread across the corresponding monster disc. I guess they do follow more of the monster series with Abbott and Costello as the flexible comedians to turn the genre on its head.

Meet Frankenstein is the famous one but I actually think Meet the Invisible Man gives Costello a lot more physical comedy. He’s either pantomiming pratfalls around an invisible costar or interacting with props rigged as if they’re being manipulated invisibly.

Not sure how many more of these I’ll finish before Halloween, but if I don’t complete the set by then, it’s nice to know there will be more classic franchises waiting for me in the future. The Universal Classic Monsters 30 Film Blu-ray set is now available.

Written by
Fred Topel also known as Franchise Fred has been an entertainment journalist since 1999 and specializes in writing about film, television and video games. Fred has written for several outlets including About.com, CraveOnline, and Rotten Tomatoes among others. His favorite films include Toy Story 2, The Rock, Face/Off, True Lies, Labyrinth, The Big Hit, Michael Moore's The Big One, and Casablanca. We are very lucky and excited to have Fred as part of the We Live Entertainment team. Follow him on Twitter @FranchiseFred and @FredTopel

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